Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec. 16
By Umid Niayesh, Saeed Isayev - Trend:
Italy can become Iran's major partner in car manufacturing industry, ambassador of the Islamic Republic in Italy, Jahanbakhsh Mozaffari told Trend on Dec. 16.
Italian carmaker Fiat signed a deal with Iran's Pars Industries Development Fund (PIDF) in 2008 to build a new $275 million factory with a capacity of 100,000 cars to produce Fiat Siena models in Iran. Since then, there has been very little news about the factory or about the current status of the partnership.
"Italian and Iranian economies compliment each other," the ambassador said. "Leading Italian companies have connections in Iran, and they are getting ready to resume their business activities in Iran if the sanctions on the Islamic Republic are lifted."
In particular, the ambassador said that Iran welcomes the possible return of Italian "ENI" company to Iranian market.
Iran's trade turnover with Italy in 2007 was higher than with any other EU members. Bilateral trade between the two countries totalled well over $7.5 billion. Much of Italy's trade with Iran came from investments made by Italy's energy company ENI in Iran's oil and gas reserves.
"Italy was Iran's first trade partner in the EU before the sanctions were imposed", the ambassador said, adding that for the time being the trade turnover has decreased, compared to the pre-sanctions period.
Mozaffari expressed hope that under new circumstances the trade turnover between the two countries would increase, reaching the pre-sanctions level.
Commenting on Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino`s visit to Tehran which will take place on December 21-22, Mozaffari said that the visit in this period is a positive step and would open a new page in bilateral relations.
It will be the first time in nearly 10 years that an Italian foreign minister travels to Iran.
"The visit can provide circumstance for boosting mutual ties more than past," he said.
He went on to add that Iran-Italy bilateral ties have a good historic background and even during the difficult times, the two countries` relations were positive and constructive.